It was a big day for Bison football on Feb. 23, as the club announced the commitment of a new star defensive tackle, a new offensive coordinator, and a special teams coordinator.
The new recruit – Cole Adamson
The big news coming out of Thursday’s press conference was the signing of 17-year-old Cole Adamson, a recent Oak Park grad and the team’s new defensive tackle. The six-foot-five, 265lb kid was potentially the most sought after recruit in Canada, with Bison head coach Brian Dobie putting him in the same class as guys like former Bison and current New Orleans Saint defensive lineman David Onyemata and Bison offensive lineman Geoff Gray.
“He was recruited by everybody, and we all talk about recruiting battles, we all do across the country. It’s the biggest part of our job,” Dobie said. “It literally turned into a recruiting war.”
Dobie went on to list the schools Cole turned down, walking away from offers by Simon Fraser, UBC, Western, and McGill to stay and play in his hometown. From all accounts Adamson is a star in the making.
“There’s nothing missing. He’s a 90 average [student], taking very high-end academic subjects,” Dobie said of their new tackle. “He is going to be a great player, I believe he’s going to become one of the faces of our program, I believe he’ll become an academic all-Canadian and a football all-Canadian.”
Despite the hype, Adamson was quite humble about the chance he was being given. When asked if the success of other Manitoba-produced linemen like Onyemata and Gray weighed on his decision, Adamson praised the program and was hopeful for the future.
“For them to make it that big into their career definitely shows that they had great coaching here and had the skills taught to them and the techniques to play at that next level,” Adamson said. “It’s exciting to have that same coaching that they had, and hopefully I can pursue to be like them.”
The new bosses – Atkinson and Karhut
The new tackle for the Bisons wasn’t the only one garnering praise. Dobie beamed at the group’s new offensive coordinator Blair Atkinson and special teams coordinator Ryan Karhut.
Atkinson played for the Bisons from 2003 to 2005, and after a short stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2006-07, he became the receivers coach for the Bisons. He is taking the reins from previous offensive coordinator Vaughan Mitchell. In his first season as the receivers coach, the team won the 2007 Vanier Cup. Since then, Atkinson has had six of his players selected in the CFL draft and three sign as free agents.
“Definitely something I’ve been waiting patiently for,” Atkinson said. “Definitely had a lot to learn from Vaughan, and I feel like I’m ready for the job.”
Those fans worried that the Bisons O-line will have everything change drastically heading into next season need not worry.
“It’s not going to change a ton,” Atkinson said of his approach. “There’ll be a few tweaks here and there, we’ll rip a few pages out, we’ll add a few pages. We hope to control the ball a little more than the previous season.”
Karrhut spent time playing for the University of Central Florida before joining the Bisons and then turning pro with the Montreal Alouettes in 2008. The former offensive lineman returns to the team he helped lift the Vanier Cup with back in 2007, after getting some experience coaching at the high school, junior, and U Sports levels.
“The timing was just right,” Karhut said. “Stuff in life was trying to pull me back here and obviously the opportunity was open here at the same time. So it was just one of those things where timing fit. Everything was matching up perfectly so it was just time to do it.”
Although Dobie joked that both Karhut and Atkinson had Bisons tattooed on their hearts, Karhut took the sentiment more literally when discussing his feelings about returning.
“I literally have a Bison tattoo,” Karhut said with a chuckle. “It was always something in my mind when I got into coaching was to come back to be part of the Bison staff.”
With the experience shown by the two new members of the Bisons’ coaching staff, and the seemingly limitless potential of their new star, the 2017 football season is beginning to look like another banner year for the herd.